Stop the invasion

  • Courtesy County of Kauai

    People working to keep the little fire ant off Kauai receive a proclamation of support from Mayor Derek S.K. Kawakami, right, as he proclaimed this as Stop the Ant Month on Kauai. From left are Eric Garcia, Larry Kaneholani, Seana Walsh, Larry Borgatti, Craig Kaneshige, Ray Kahaunaele, Tiffani Keanini, Cleve Javier, Roshan Manandhar, Jenny Allen, Alicia Hedlesky and Kawakami. They represent the state Department of Agriculture, Kauai Invasive Species Committee, National Tropical Botanical Garden, Kauai Landscape Industry Council and University of Hawaii.

LIHUE — Mayor Derek S.K. Kawakami on Thursday signed a proclamation declaring Stop the Ant Month in support of little fire ant awareness on Kauai.

Part of the statewide Stop-the-Ant Campaign, the gathering coincided with detection of a new LFA outbreak on Kauai.

Kawakami’s proclamation includes a reminder of the need for year-round vigilance and a call to action for LFA testing.

The new detection announced last week on Kauai is the first LFA population to be found on this island in 20 years. Delimiting surveys of the area have been completed by the state Department of Agriculture in partnership with the Kauai Invasive Species Committee and Hawaii Ant Lab, and treatment of the 2.5-acre area has commenced. Kauai’s only previous LFA infestation occurred in the Kalihiwai area in 1999 and has been controlled to near undetectable levels.

Originally from South America, LFA are tiny ants, measuring 1/16th inch long, and pale orange in color. They can produce painful stings and large red welts and may cause blindness in pets as well as serious impacts to agriculture and wildlife. LFA can build up very large colonies on the ground, in trees and other vegetation, and inside buildings and homes, and have devastated Pacific Island communities where they have become established.

Because early detection is vital for successful eradication, all Kauai residents are urged to test their property for LFA at least once a year.

Sampling instructions and a short video can be found at Samples should be mailed to KISC at 7370 Kuamoo Rd., Kapaa, HI 96746, or dropped off or mailed to the HDOA office at 4398A Pua Loke St., Lihue, HI 96766.

  1. Jake November 4, 2019 4:01 am Reply

    Reports from recent Kalalau Trail hikers indicate there is an outbreak of ants along the Kalalau Trail, folks are saying they couldn’t sit down along the trail or they would be covered in them. Not sure if those ants are LFA.

    Please check Na Pali wilderness areas for these ants as well.

  2. curious dog November 4, 2019 3:38 pm Reply

    Boots on the ground are needed & the best way to get this is to pass out test kits to willing tourists as they exit the plane & have them complete their kit & turn it in when they depart a week later. Imagine how much information you’d get in a month! Tourists come here b/c they love the island & this is their way to feel like they’re helping.

    Have the mail carriers distribute test kits to all residents & see how many are returned. If you get positive participation, continue this once a month.

    If they’re at the Kalalau trail (or any other trail), please close until further testing can rule LFA’s out!

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